I’m an over thinker. An over analyzer. A planner. A want-to-know-all-the-deets kind of girl.
I believe this tendency started very early, when the circumstances of my life were chaotic and unpredictable. My little mind wanted consistency and a sense of control over something. Over the years, this has both plagued me and strengthened me. I think, for most of us, that’s how it works.
Our greatest strength, when left to its own motives, can also be our greatest weakness.
When kept in check, my tendency to overthink and analyze and plan, can be an amazing tool to carefully think forward and dream in ways that are big and scary and amazing. It can allow me to make big moves that may not be 100% certain, but that are confidently thought-through and taken into careful consideration. It helps me to be bold, but not reckless.
When left to rule itself, my tendency to overanalyze can lead to anxiety and immobilizing fear.
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. When I was in college, I had an amazing study abroad experience in Spain. When I returned from Spain, I was to head back to college in Southern California. If you’ve read my book, then you’ve heard this story before. Stay with me.
So, I got back to the states and I was faced with a decision. I could go back to life as planned in sunny So Cal, or I could take a brand new (and scary) opportunity to move to Bozeman, MT with my best friend and finish up school there.
For weeks I agonized over what to do. My planner mind tried to play out all the scenarios far into the future. I let me heart feel what it might feel to leave all I knew and go to this place where literally everything about my life would change. I thought through the details financially, logistically, emotionally, and academically. There were many reasons to stay put, but I had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t supposed to.
I had a case of “analysis paralysis”. I almost said no to going simply because it was so agonizing just trying to make a decision! Anyone else ever been there?
I finally had to come to a point of surrender. I had to accept that I had put in all the effort I could to make a healthy and well thought-through decision. The rest was up to God. I had to lean on that gut feeling (which I now recognize was the Spirit’s nudging) to make my final decision.
I decided to go for it.
I went to Montana and I created a whole new life there. I was stretched in so many ways and though it wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows (quite literally…Montana snow is no joke), it was just what my soul needed. God knew where He needed to take me to bring me closer to His heart and away from my self dependent ways.
The more we lean into and trust His leading, the more beneficial our strengths are for us and for others.
I have this visual that I think of in this situation. It’s like a couple dancing together. Even the most technically trained dancers have to submit to the lead. If not, all their greatness and expertise are wasted. When there is no submission and both people are dancing together but independently, they’re a jumbled mess of squashed toes and frustration. But, when the partner submits to the lead, they both shine. The gifts of both dancers can be seen.
God is our lead. When we are in step with His will for us, the gifts He has given us can shine the brightest and so can the witness of His work in our lives. He uses us for big things, because we’re there for it—ready to be trained and molded.
I don’t know about you, but my natural response is not to humble myself and submit. The more we do it though, the easier it gets.
Maybe you’re an over thinker like me, or an impulsive decision maker, or a co dependent thinker. Whatever it is you feel you struggle with, I can guarantee there is a good side to it—a strength in the midst. We decide how we use it and how we guard it. We decide either to live with a false sense of control, willing ourselves to do better next time, or we submit to the One who created us and let Him bring out the best in us.
A daily surrender of our thoughts and dreams and plans is the best way to make our strengths shine and keep our struggles in check. We may not be in control of much in this world, but this? This is up to us.
I’d love to hear what you feel your “thing” is. The thing that can be your greatest strength and also your greatest downfall. Tell me in the comments.